So, tell me the truth…just how much fun is to to be a Thrashers fan right now? Yeah, yeah…I know…no playoffs yet again. But the way this team has been playing over the past several weeks has brought an electric feeling back into Blueland that just hasn’t been around for many, many moons. It’s as if the hockey gods have decided to smile upon us once again.
It’s about time too…I’ve sent enough cases of Labatts and Molsons up to their Mountain-top Canadian palace as offers of appeasment! I was beginning to think they were being conviscated going through customs.
Assuming this fine play continues through the remainder of the last six games of this campaign, (and there is no real reason to believe it won’t), this will be the first time in five years that I have felt good about the team at the conclusion of the season.
This time last year the end of the season came almost as a relief, a merciful end to what was a disastrous 2007-08 campaign. That team started off 0-6-0….got a good coach fired… watched as Marian Hossa refused to re-sign, forcing a trade…then finished off the season 5-10-4 after the trade deadline. That team just left a bad taste in my mouth and my end-of-season wrap-up was more like a post-mortem.
The year before that…THE playoff year… ended what was a very fine season on a very sour note, being swept by the Rangers. It was a series that included the infamous 7-0 game-three debacle at MSG and saw the Thrashers outscored 17-6. Not a happy experience at all.
Prior to that was the 2005-06 season in which Atlanta got off to a horrendous start… thanks greatly to an injury to Kari Lehtonen in the first game and to other goalies soon thereafter…only to see the team scratch, claw, fight and scrape there way back into playoff contention. The last weekend of the season found the Thrashers controlling their own fate…needing just to win and they were in. Then…that game in Washington… losing to a team that ended up with only 70 points. And Mike Dunham…well, let’s just not go there again, shall we? Needless to say, like so many of you, I was just sick.
Of course, we were all disgusted with the 2004-05 season that never was.
Yes, I have to go all the way back to the spring of 2004 when Atlanta finished 12-8-2-2 to finish out strong and gave us hope for what the future might hold. That team finished with 78 points, their highest yet in their five year history at the time, finishing in second place behind a Tampa Bay team that was on their way to the Stanley Cup a few months later. Thrashers fans were excited about their two young stars, Dany Heatly…I know, I know… and Ilya Kovalchuk. Also, there was this young goalie named Kari Lehtonen who went 4-0-0-0 with a 1.25 GAA and .953 SV% in the four games he started at the end of that season.
It was a good time to be a Thrashers fan then.
Similarly, it is a good time to be a Thrashers fan today.
Atlanta just finished off a 9-4-0 month of March with a 6-3 B-slappin’ of the Ottawa Senators…quite frankly, a team the Thrashers should find a way to beat at this time. The Thrashers outshot the Sens 32-21 in the win and it’s almost becoming a regular thing to see this defense hold the opposition to fewer than 30 SOG…in fact, they have done so for the past four games. No surprise then that they are 3-1-0 in that time.
Kari Lehtonen didn’t play as he’s nursing an “upper body” injury incurred during Thursday’s 5-4 shootout win against the Rangers. Johan Hedberg did get the start and earned career win number 100…congrats Moose! Hedberg now has a winning record on the season, 11-10-3. Of course, he had me groanin’ after flubbin’ the puck behind the net, leading to Ottawa’s opening goal…but he settled down and played a very solid game from that point on.
Ilya Kovalchuk’s game-tying goal just 10 seconds before the end of the first was a real juicer for the crowd on hand. It obviously did a world of good for he and his teammmates as well. They came out in the second and took the game over, outscoring the Sens 3-0 in the middle frame…Tobias Enstrom, Marty Reasoner and Colby Armstrong with the honors. Army now has 19 goals on the year. One more would give the Thrashers five players with 20 or more goals this season.
For Kovy, it was goal number 40 on the season…24 of which have come since we was named captain of the team in mid-January.
Slava Kozlov added a pair of helpers in the second as well as tossing in a goal for good measure in the third. Nathan Oystrick scored the first goal for Atlanta in the opening period.
The Thrashers are now 19-15-1 since the second half of the season began with a 4-0 win in New Jersey. That .557 is the type of record that would net a team 91 poinst over a full season. This isn’t a short stretch of games that the team has played consistently well over…it’s been half a season.
At home, the Thrashers have won seven of their last nine games…bringing their overall home record to 16-19-2 with four more games to be played at Philips. They’ve played to a record of 8-4-1 away from home since the middle of February and, with two more away dates, are 16-19-4 on the road overall.
Kids, if you haven’t seen the Thrashers play lately…or even all season…you need to. If you’re truly a fan of the game, you owe it to yourself to get down to the Philips Funland and check these guys out.
2009-10 Blue Crew Tryouts
It’s never too soon to start thinking about next year. And to that point…the Atlanta Thrashers Blue Crew are already preparing for another great season. Tryouts for the 2009-10 squad will be held at the Marietta Ice Center May 13 – 17. Young ladies ages 19 and up will have their chance to earn a place with this fine, outstanding group that do a bang-up job at each and every Thrashers game and represent Blueland proudly inside Philips Arena and out.
I wanna thank Jeff for coming up and introducing himself to me prior to the game, very nice to have met you. Same goes with the chap who posts under the name “English Teacher”. Oh, and Smoothie…good to see you again my friend and it was a pleasure to have met the lovely Kristen, (her name ending in “ten”…very appropriate). And then there was Brandy and Jamie who sat in front of me and my youngest tax-exemption, helping to make the whole night just that much more fun. Jamie plays wide receiver for the Atlanta Xplosion, a women’s full contact tackle football team which will begin play on April 11. Ladies playing tackle football…very cool indeed.
ahem… Does your team need a “Fan Blogger”, Jamie?